To Be an Ajoshi...

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To Be an Ajoshi...

There is a popular joke in Korea that pokes fun at older Korean women.

Q: World famous sprinters, Carl Lewis and Ben Johnson, are riding the subway in Seoul and there is only one empty seat. Who gets there first?

A: The ajumma (an older, married woman) standing next to them.

'Ajummas' in this country have long been the butt of many jokes and have had a reputation for being stubborn and self-centered.

Well, move over ajummas, because 'ajoshi' culture is here. An ajoshi is an average middle-aged married man in Korea, the male counterpart to the ajumma. On a recent trip to Mount Kumgang, where 4 out of 10 tourists were men, I discovered what it meant to be part of the ajoshi culture.

To be an ajoshi, never apologize. When standing in a busy buffet line, never apologize for bumping into people, especially if it's a woman.

To be an ajoshi, never have any qualms about taking another's seat.

To be an ajoshi, never eat food unless its served to you, preferably by an ajumma. This goes for seasoning your food as well.

The difference between ajoshis and ajummas is at the root of Korean culture. Women are forced to act in a certain way, while men choose to.

Ajoshis who cannot apologize, consider other people's feelings, or serve their own food are no different than the mentally challenged. If Korean men really want to know how it feels to live, ajoshi culture must go.

by Hong Un-hi

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